Thanks to Long Zheng for this post at his blog “istartedsomething.com” about a couple of Microsoft Videos showcasing the MS vision of gadgets and interactions in the future. The shorter video is neat but it was a sequence in the long one that really, REALLY got my attention. Using surface computing (which is already a robust application), on a transparent wall, two kids in classrooms thousands of miles away from each other were reacting in real time and in *different languages* as their voices were translated instantly for the other student. The technology driving this application is pretty much here now although I think there’d be some challenges making it work as fast as in the video, but this is the kind of stuff that is so provocative, powerful, and cool that it brings a technology teardrop to my eye.
In a world challenged so dramatically by a combination of ignorance and misunderstanding, how much progress could we make with technologies like this that cross connect people and cultures almost seamlessly? Obviously we have a long way to go and this is technology for the rich folks among those in our global family, but as these technologies penetrate into affluent or lucky schools the appeal and testing will continue until we can have much wider distribution.